B.C.’s Blue Box Battle: A Modest Proposal on the Province’s Recycling System

Buckerfields CEO Kelvin McCulloch chimes in again on the province's controversial new recycling plan under MMBC...

  • Apr. 3, 2014 5:00 p.m.

*The following is a contributed Opinion piece by Kelvin McCulloch – CEO, Buckerfields…

Last weekend, I decided to look up how much Property Tax is collected in the Province of British Columbia. To my amazement, British Columbians paid a total of $7.968 billion dollars last year. Here are more facts:

  • The taxes are paid by everyone in the province with an address, including small businesses, large businesses, manufacturers, utilities, and of course, residential property owners and apartment dwellers
  • The average Property Tax rate for BC businesses is 5.5 times higher than the tax rate for residential taxpayers – because business is expected to pay its share
  • Property taxes pay for schools, hospitals, and services provided by local government, with an emphasis on waste management and recycling.

On top of this, MMBC is trying to collect another $84 million from the remaining handful of businesses including Buckerfields that weren’t lucky enough get the BC Chamber of Commerce/BC Government’s latest exemption. While MMBC’s target represents 1.2 per cent of all of Property Taxes collected last year, we the unlucky, comprise less than two one-hundredths of one percent of tax payers. Anyone know how we are supposed to come up with that much money? Frankly, if the Provincial government knew what it was doing, they would realize it’s not even possible. But they don’t, do they?

Enough complaining. Here is my proposal to fix all this.

First, let’s quickly recognize that economically viable recycling is inevitable because of the growth in global consumerism. As China’s 1.363 billion people discover and embrace North American style consumerism, China will buy every scrap of recycled paper, plastic, metal, wood and everything else that British Columbians throw away to supply the country’s manufacturing processes. India falls into this category. All BC has to do is stand by and watch while normal market forces propel recycling forward. In the not too distant future, global demand for our garbage will eat up everything we throw out and more, recycled or not. And the people who have custody of this resource will be making a lot of money.

In the face of this, if the Provincial government really wants to look good instead of just flogging somebody else’s failed concepts and pandering to people with bad attitudes towards BC business, here is a project that all British Columbians can be proud of.

First, the Province of British Columbia creates a 1% environmental surcharge on Property Taxes to be paid by everyone, businesses and consumers alike. Don’t everybody jump too quickly. That would cost me personally about twenty bucks a year and I would be proud to pay it. It would cost my company about $300 a year and we would be proud to pay it. By spreading the load evenly over the entire tax base, the surcharge would produce about $80 million a year, almost the exact same amount that MMBC is trying to gouge out, and it would be virtually unnoticeable to any single taxpayer.

The legislation creating the surcharge would have a five year sunset clause so that at the end of five years, the surcharge would end. Why? If we can’t get the job done by spending a total of $400 million over five years, then we shouldn’t be attempting this program at all.

The monies would go straight into the Consolidated Revenues fund of the Province and would fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Auditor General, that is, full legislative and public oversight. We would be absolutely assured that the money wasn’t going sideways, unlike the situation with MMBC.

A second bit of legislation would create a Regional Recycling Authority to distribute the monies to local governments. The authority would accept or deny local government applications for funding. Municipalities would have to compete for the funds.  Only the best and most essential recycling projects would be funded. Unlike the situation with MMBC where one person is going around handing out money whether it is needed or not, the expenditures would be optimized in plain sight of taxpayers. Unlike the MMBC situation where three people with dubious corporate connections mysteriously showed up from Ontario to form the agency, the directors of the BC Recycling Authority would be British Columbians with bona fide recycling, local government and finance credentials as well as members of the public.  And OK, the Minister of Environment can appoint them, but do it publicly, eh?

The new Recycling Authority would also be under the jurisdiction of the Provincial Auditor General so we would see independent evaluations of the results. No funny stuff, no wasted money, no overspending, no failure to produce the intended outcomes. Or we would know by the end of each year and we would demand that the situation be corrected.

Finally, there would be a five year sunset clause on the Recycling Authority itself. By then, the job should be done. If not, the government of the day would have to introduce a new Bill into the legislature and we would at least have an opportunity to complain or get rid of it in a democratic manner.

The new Auditor General for Local Government would be invited to focus on waste management and recycling programs at the local government level, to feed information to the new Recycling Authority, publicly. The Provincial Auditor General would report annually or more frequently if necessary.

This system would accelerate recycling while strengthening local governments’ mandates and abilities.  Four hundred million dollars would be pumped in over five years and every dollar would have been raised fairly from businesses and consumers. It would be accounted for properly, reported publicly, evaluated independently by our Legislative and local government Auditors.

At the end of five years, we as a team would have produced recycling systems in BC that would rival anything worldwide.

The cost would have been shared fairly.

At the same time, the fundamental democratic processes we rely on to ensure reasonable taxation, fair play and accountability would have been strengthened instead of what we have now with MMBC.

 

Just Posted

Don’t swim in Mission Creek, says regional district

The Kelowna creek is flowing faster and is much colder with the upper elevation snowmelt

Central Okanagan EDC boss to sit on provincial board

Corie Griffiths elected to Local Government Management Association of B.C. board

Tourism Kelowna adopts sustainability initiative

Responsible to environment key to long-term tourism growth

Surprise hot air balloon landings in Kelowna

Balloon with 6 passengers aboard lands on Blondeaux Crescent

Nitro Circus show hits Apple Bowl Friday

Kelowna’s Bruce Cook, who was rendered a paraplegic in 2014, will perform in his hometown

Stranded couple rescued from Mission Creek

Rescue personnel brought two people ashore from an island after their rafts were swept away.

Horgan defends fight to both retain and restrict Alberta oil imports

Alberta says pipeline bottlenecks are kneecapping the industry, costing millions of dollars a day

Vernon woman captures prestigious foresty honour

Tanya Wick from Tolko wins Women In Forest Award of Excellence

Police release video on how to ‘run, hide, fight’ if there’s an active shooter

Vancouver police offer video with input from E-Comm, BC EHS, Vancouver Fire and Rescue

RCMP caution boaters after two kids pass out from carbon monoxide poisoning

Both children were given oxygen and taken to hospital

B.C. invests $115M to create 200 new nurse practitioner jobs

Health Minister says 780,000 B.C. residents don’t have a family doctor

Supreme Court rules social housing residents in B.C. deserve rights too

Tenants trying to stabilize their living situations should not face less legal rights than those paying market rates: Judge

Union calls on prime minister to step into ‘stalled’ Phoenix compensation talks

For more than two years, thousands of federal workers have been affected by Phoenix system

Judge: President Trump can’t block critics on Twitter

The judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics

Most Read